2.2 The Ultimate Self-Cast Crit EK Build/Guide (Occultist Witch) - 418k+ DPS / Quad Cursing

Coming Soon: I will be posting/linking a full-length YouTube video including more in-depth commentary and game-play in high-end maps/challenges.

Ascendancy Class: Occultist: Forbidden Power, Profane Bloom and Malediction

Passive Skill Tree:

The Build! (Frequently Asked Questions at Bottom of Page)

THATS A LOT OF BUFFS! (Charges/Bandits and More)
We Run 7 Power Charges, 5 Endurance Charges, and 4 Frenzy Charges.
I have +1 Power Charge from my Staff, and +1 Frenzy from my Boots for a total of 8/5/5
Bandits = Help Oak All Difficulties for total of +40 Life, +16% Physical Damage, and +1 Endurance Charge.

The rest of the buffs are a result of our almost 100% Uptime on Flasks AND Vaal Skills, thanks to the Increased Flask Charges Gained from Poachers Mark, Increased Flask Duration from The Retch and the Skill Tree, and the Chill of Corruption Jewel in synergy with 95% Capped Crit Chance and Herald of Ice Proliferation

-This is a Quad-Curse Build, relying on the proliferation from Herald of Ice + Curse on Hit to curse multiple enemies in the AOE Shatter effect. This provides us with reliable charge generation as well as dipping into the many bonuses of Poacher's Mark, Warlord's Mark, Assassin's Mark, and Projectile Weakness. This is also why we have some increased area of effect nodes in the Skill tree's Templar Area: their sole purpose is to noticeably increase the reliability of charge generation by increasing the radius of Herald of Ice's Shatter Effect.

Offensive Stats of this Build:

These stats are taken with Flasks/Vaal Haste Up
With Malediction's Increased Chaos damage this Tooltip Reaches 418k.

This tooltip does not even include many of the increased damage buff factors including Assassin's Mark, Projectile Weakness in synergy with +10% Curse Effect as well as the 10% Increased Damage Cursed Enemies take from Profane Bloom.

Our EK Crit Chance is perfectly Min/Maxed to 85%, and when combined with 10% additive from Assassin's mark, we reach the perfect 95% Crit Cap.

Defensive Stats of this Build:
at L94 my Witch has
5078 Life
2178 ES

Well over 7.5k Effective Life.

43% Ratio of ES to Life

On Mana/Life ratio from PathofExile Wiki
"For mana to not run out before life the unreserved mana should be at least 43% of unreserved life, granted that 30% of damage is taken from Mana before Life."

DPS Can be EASILY sacrificed in favor of more defensive stats

My Gear on Standard

Flask Setup (Essential)

GG Custom Self-Crafted Jewels/Gem Swap


Gear Explained (In Depth)

-Helm: Summon Stone Golem > Increased Duration > Vaal Grace > Empower
-Gloves: Cast when Damage Taken > Immortal Call > Increased Duration > Vaal Haste
-Boots: Flame Dash > Arctic Armor > Hatred > (Portal)
-Chest: Curse on Hit > Herald of Ice > Warlord's Mark > Poacher's Mark > Assassin's Mark > Projectile Weakness
-Weapon: Ethereal Knives > Empower L4 > Added Fire > Faster Projectiles > Faster Casting > Increased Critical Strikes > Spell Echo (From Pledge)

-You will need to swap in Physical to Lightning for Faster Casting for Physical Reflect Maps

-You can also swap in Poison or Slower Projectiles for Higher Single Target DPS for Boss Fights

-(You can also run Lightning Warp + Reduced Duration if you prefer this for movement over Flame Dash. Simply replace Portal, as this is technically an open gem slot

-The 4-Link Setups are all interchangeable in terms of colors, you may need a chunk of currency to recolor one of these pieces with Off-Colors.

-Do not use Empower in Staff unless it is L4 - You can replace it with a number of things (Chain/Faster Casting/Physical to Lightning/Increased Critical Multiplier/Poison etc.)

-We are using lower level Warlords mark due to strength requirement

-We are also using a mid-level cast when damage taken as opposed to L1 so we don't lose our endurance charges on every tiny hit

The +1 Curse Dilemma:
If you have reached end game and want to utilize the Quad-Curse Setup, you MUST get an extra +1 Curse on 1 extra piece of gear, in addition to Whispers of Doom, and Malediction in Occultist Ascendancy - Your options are Doedre's Damning, Windscream Boots, or an Amulet. I was lucky enough to get an INSANE +1 Curse amulet - do whatever is in your budget and make up for the resistances on the other pieces of gear.


Explanation: See "FAQ: Why Pledge of Hands?" at bottom of page


Because we are a Hybrid EB/MOM/ZO Build, the Best-in-slot helm for us prioritizes High ES, High Life and Resistances
Our helmet is the main source of our ES Pool, so getting as high es as possible on this is crucial to getting the most benefit out of being hybrid. It is ok to
Our helmet is also a main source of resistances after our rings.


A 6 Link Restless Ward is the best choice here.

This armor provides solid Hybrid stats with both flat life and high ES

The really important stuff:
-Max of 20 Life Regenerated per Second per Endurance Charge - Up to 100 flat total ES Regen/s after conversion through Zealot's Oath and with 5 Endurance Charges.
-This combined with a High Level Stone Golem and %Life Regenerated from the Skill Tree/Consecrated Ground provide more than enough ES Regen to sustain unlimited casting as well as extra survivability

+100% Frenzy/Endurance/Power Charge Duration: This helps a LOT with keeping charges up indefinitely since we can only generate charges when hitting packs.

-If you are on a budget or have not yet been able to 6 Link your Restless ward, a 5 Link is perfectly viable. You will need to drop the Projectile Weakness Curse in your chest, and replace Faster Casting (in Pledge) with Chain to make up for the clear speed.


+1 Curse Corruption (Optional - See The +1 Curse Dilemma Above)
Life/ES% or High Flat
Crit Chance
Crit Multiplier
Cast Speed


#1 -Resistances! - These are the best slot for this build to get crucial resistances needed to cap in merciless.
-Critical Strike Chance (Diamond Ring Base or / Master Crafted)

-High Life
-Energy Shield (% or High Flat)
-Cast Speed
-High Dexterity - This will save you several skill points needed to reach required dex for L20 Vaal Skills


This belt is simply the Best-in-slot, and ridiculously overpowered for an EK Build.
-Rustic Sash Base for 24% Increased Physical Damage
-High Cold Res needed for merciless cap
-High flat life
60% Increased Flask Duration for a total of 72% Increased duration with the 12% from Skill Tree - This is really why we use this belt - it contributes to our high flask uptime.
-30% Reduced flask charges gained while using a flasks - this debuff is completely counteracted and more by Poacher's mark's 100% Increased Flask Charges Gained.
200% Life Leech Applies to enemies as Chaos Damage - Combined with Warlord's Mark, Vinktars, and Atziri's Flask, this is a total of 2% + 2% of Chaos Damage + 30% Of lightning Damage dealt as added Chaos Damage. More Damage? We'll Take it.
-15% movement speed when you have a flask runnning (which is all the time)


Gloves are a fairly flexible item slot for this build

-Atziri's Acuity are the most reliable option for survivability against reflect, and its effect gains a ton of value since we are crit-capped. These can save you if for some stupid reason you dont have your flasks up for instant life leech, and are hitting several reflect mobs. However, these are also some of the most expensive gloves in the game so they are not for every budget. They also give incredible Life and ES stats, in addition to free crit chance and armor.

-Maligaros are a solid DPS / Dex option, since we really dont NEED the instant life leech from Acuities. We already get this from Vinktar's Flask.

-If you are really on a budget, Rare Gloves with life/resists or even Winds of Change or something similar are viable.


Again, this slot is extremely flexible. I am currently using Atziri's Step since I don't need extra resists, and greatly value the extra spell dodge against reflect, life, and move speed.
Try to get +1 Frenzy corruption on unique boots as they are generally quite cheap/easy to get and a solid extra damage boost.

Rare Life/ES/Resists/Movement Speed are viable if you are not capped/overcapped

Blood Dance and other Unique boots are also viable. Blood dance provides a secondary source of frenzy charge generation, free skill point(s) in the form of flat dex, and more %ES Regen/s based on your frenzy charges.

Flask Setup:

Due to our nearly 100% Uptime on all flasks, it is viable to factor the stats our flasks grant us directly into our character's stats. For that reason, I won't go too much into detail as to why I picked each flask, but be assured they are the best for EK. Tweak them if you wish.

Sulphur Flask: I recently started testing this because of the solid DPS boost and Consecrated Ground created when used. Consecrated ground provides us a WHOPPING 4% Es Regen/s when casting or standing still, and helps out in 40% or 60% reduced regen maps. Also, Utility flasks can now roll % Increased duration meaning this flask can last for over 11 Seconds.

Quicksilver: Helps a great deal with Clear speed and mobility - this is not a meta whirling blades build.

You can choose the secondary mods based on what you're most scared of - I chose the anti-bleed and corrupting blood mod "of staunching" because it's something that can kill you when there is nothing to leech off of. It also helps in Labyrinth Runs against traps that cause bleeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Ethereal Knives?
I started playing the second half of Domination, built an EK Character and never looked back.
My EK Witch has been the only character I own that is always fully geared and I have never gotten sick of playing it.
I have spent thousands of regrets and hours making the MOST efficient Skill Tree/Item Gearing possible and been through many dramatically different iterations of this build. This Final version is in my eyes, Perfection.

Why Pledge of Hands?
There are certainly arguments for going 1h + shield, but Pledge simply trumps 2 BIS items for EK Hands down.
It allows for a 7-Link, L24 Ethereal Knives (EK Scales harder than almost any other skill with additional links and levels)
It allows us to utilize a 6 Link Chest, in which we can place our Quad Curse Setup

Is this Build Hardcore Viable?
The short answer is No.
Although deaths are extremely rare, self-cast casters using a skill susceptible to reflect is simply not tanky enough to run hardcore leagues reliably.
In addition, there are many uniques, 2 6-Links, and items which are essential to the build functioning as it should.

HOWEVER: With good gear and changes to the skill tree, this build can become insanely tanky and thrive perfectly fine in a Hardcore Environment. We reach such insane damage heights that sacrificing some of that for more life/es, block/dodge or opting into acrobatics + phase acrobatics can be a no-brainer.

How does this build sustain casting / mana drain?
This is a hybrid build that uses the Eldritch Battery to spend ES before Mana for skills.
Then we use Zealot's Oath in conjunction with high Energy Shield Regeneration/s (400+) to allow us to never run out of ES.
We also use this energy shield pool as effective health through the Mind over Matter Keystone.

Can you run Atziri/Uber Atziri?
Atziri: Yes
Uber Atziri: Probably Not.

-Most efficient skill tree of any Witch build EVER with 2x Intuitive Leap + Little to No Travel points (I know, this is a bold claim)
-Absurd DPS (400k Tooltip Self-Buffed)
-Fast paced + satisfying gameplay + fast clear speed
-Nearly Immune to Reflect (Can literally run both types of reflect maps with 0 problems)
-Extremely Tanky for a Caster

-Expensive + has required items for End-Game setup
(Although for Standard, entire build costs much less than a single mirrored item)
-Difficult to scale before End Game
-Cannot do Uber Atziri and some T14-15 Bosses
-Requires good management of Flasks/Vaal Skills to keep 100% Uptime
(Unless you have a mouse command or shortcut that will allow you to press them all at once :D)

Map Mods to Avoid?
Physical Reflect and Elemental Reflect when Possible - Yes, This build can deal with these map mods but it requires extra caution and attentive use of flasks/waiting for ES to recharge. Especially in Hardcore or when you are close to leveling, there is no reason to take the risk
No Regen - Can't sustain casting. 40% and 60% Reduced Regen Maps are completely fine.
Immune to Curses - We are a Quad Curse Build. We can no longer generate frenzy/endurance charges.
Monster resistance/immunity to Elemental Status Ailments - No Explosions/Freezing from Herald of Ice = No curses = No charges.
Ultimate EK Guide - https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1610530
Last edited by ParylaxLoL on Mar 22, 2016, 6:59:17 PM
Last bumped on Sep 19, 2016, 2:43:58 PM
Nice guide, might try it out some day.
Can you post a video of it?
I make mirror tier items, I don't rlly play the actual game. Reddit hates me. I'm not cool.
TheAmigoBoyz wrote:
Can you post a video of it?

Will do asap, on spring break atm
Ultimate EK Guide - https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1610530
Hehe enjoy your springbreak, definitely a great experience! =)

I'm also looking forward to the video, been meaning to do an EK build for a while now and the economics of the perandus league definitely allow for it.

EDIT: I'm especially interested in seeing how well the CoH HoI works
Last edited by Bencher_ on Mar 18, 2016, 12:49:37 PM
Will this build work well with two 5L setup? I only can afford around 3ex investment on Perandus at the moment, but really want to play EK
Hi , how did u get 6k armour ?
2nd question . Chance to dodge attacks/spells shown on screen is with vaal grace?
pel1906 wrote:
Hi , how did u get 6k armour ?
2nd question . Chance to dodge attacks/spells shown on screen is with vaal grace?

Rumi's Concoction + Armor from Acuities.
Yes dodge is pictured with vaal grace.

fensinator wrote:
Will this build work well with two 5L setup? I only can afford around 3ex investment on Perandus at the moment, but really want to play EK

Absolutely its viable with 2 5Links. You will have to swap in chain and drop projectile weakness for clear speed.
Ultimate EK Guide - https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1610530
I don't really understand why you're getting Amplify in the passive tree. The only things I can imagine it works for is the Occultist node, Profane Bloom. But is that worth it?

Edit: Nevermind, didn't read the part about Herald of Ice's shatter effect.
Last edited by Ptolemaios on Mar 25, 2016, 8:36:33 AM
At what level would you recommend slotting in the intuitive leap jewels?

Report Forum Post

Report Account:

Report Type

Additional Info